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Undiscovered Treasures poster for an event, which happened at The Devil's Porridge Museum on 4th September 2022.

Book Launch for Undiscovered Treasures

By Events




Sunday 4th September 2022

Earlier this year The Devil’s Porridge Museum had some Undiscovered Treasures writing workshops were local writers had a chance to respond to some of the hidden treasures in our collection. We’re now proud to host the book launch for the book created in these workshops.

At this FREE event there will be the chance to hear from the writers with copies of the book avalible for sale. There will also be tea, coffee and biscuits.


Front cover of Gretna Parish War Memorial book.

Ken J. Stafford M.C. Lieut. R.F.A.

By Collections blog

 This will be the first in a series of posts commemorating those named on the Gretna and Dornock Parish WW1 War Memorials. Today we commemorate Ken J. Stafford M.C. Lieut. R.F.A.


Kenneth James Stafford, Military Cross, age 20, Lieutenant 37th Battery, 27th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.


Born in 1898 in St. Andrews, Fife. Son of the Reverend John Owen Stafford, Minister at Mochrum Parish Church and (for many years) at Gretna Parish Church, and of Mary Anne Tweedie Kerr Stafford.


Kenneth was educated at Carlisle Grammer School and at Clifton Bank School, St. Andrews. He enlisted in April 1916 was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in February 1917 and promoted to Lt. in August 1918. He was awarded the Military Cross.


“Lt. Kenneth James Stafford, R.F.A. (Spec. Res.) attd. 37th Battery, 27th Brigade. For great gallantry and devotion to duty on 4 November 1918 near Beaudignies, when his battery was heavily shelled, he went up to the position and remained there for some hours encouraging the men and attending to several who were wounded. He continued to do so after being badly wounded. Throughout these operation he set a fine example to those with him.


Died of Wounds – 14 November 1918.


Commonwealth War Grave – St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. Also named the Mochrum Parish War Memorial in Port William, Wigtownshire.


Kenneth’s father, The Rev. John Owen Stafford was killed on 7 April 1941 in Gretna when a German Bomb hit the town’s Masonic Hall.

Haaf Net Fishing Exhibition Removal

By News

For a number of months, the Devil’s Porridge Museum has had an excellent exhibition on display focusing on the ancient local practice of Haaf Net Fishing.  On Monday, Derek from D&G Council came to collect the exhibition and was surprised and pleased to see that it had grown in its time with us!  Lots of people have come forward after visiting or hearing about the exhibition to donate objects, photographs or oral history testimonies.  We’re really pleased to pass on these objects so that they can go with the exhibition as it travels to showcase the story of this interesting fishing technique and the unique social history and culture connected with it.


To find out more about the exhibition and practice of haaf net fishing see:

Roundabout near Gretna Gateway. This photo is from the past.

Old Gretna Drop-in Session

By Events

A chance to talk with Judith Hewitt, Manager of The Devil’s Porridge Museum about objects in the Museum collection.  Judith will showcase maps, photographs and objects relating to Gretna in World War One.  Come along if you’d like to take a look and discuss any aspect of local history with her.

The Devil's Porridge Museum's podcast logo with a cartoon munition worker and soldier.

New Online Podcast

By News

Welcome to the Devil’s Porridge Museum Podcast!


Over the last few weeks museum staff and volunteers have been working on an inter-generational  oral history project. This project is now available for you to enjoy in the form of the Devil’s Porridge Museum Podcast.


Through conversations and interviews, our volunteers and others from the local community will be sharing their personal stories and memories with the Devil’s Porridge Museum Podcast team.


The first podcast features museum Chairman Richard Brodie, discussing the origins of the museum with some young visitors. More episodes will follow over the coming weeks, so please come back and listen to more instalment throughout the summer.


If you would like to get involved with the project to share your own stories and memories or if you would like to find out more about joining our production team please contact



You can listen to the Podcast below:

If you would like to know more about the Museum, its collection and history, you might be interested in our Museum guidebook (just £2.50 from our online shop):

The Devil’s Porridge Museum Guidebook


Annan Academy Certificate for perfect attendance.

Old Annan Academy Certificates

By Collections blog

These certificates were being kept in our Museum store along with the Gretna Township school certificates which we posted about previously. The certificates were all donated by the same person and shows which years they were in the different schools during the 1920’s after the First World War.


The certificate below is from 1929 and was awarded for excellence in French, English and Science. The one above was awarded for Excellent Attendance for 2 years in 1928.


Gretna Township Education Authority certificate.

Gretna School Certificates

By Collections blog

While looking through our items in the Museum store we stumbled upon some old certificates from the Gretna Township Primary School from the 1920’s just after the First World War.

We also have some photos of the old school and even a photo of one of the registers from the school with some of the pupils names on it from 1917!



The certificates are all from the same person and were given to them each year. We only have three of them from 1920, 1921 and 1924.



We also have some from Annan Academy with the same name on them but we will share these at a later date.

Below you can see some of the old images of Gretna Township School which we have in our archives.


This is an old photo of the Gretna Township school



This is the old register for the class at Gretna Township school from 1917.


Watch our social media accounts to see more old photos and documents from the local area in Dumfries and Galloway!

Old Parish Church at Gretna Green.

Old Postcards of Gretna

By Collections blog

Recently the Museum was donated a large amount of postcards. Some had old photos of Carlisle and the surrounding area on them which we have already posted on our website, some had funny cartoons on them which we will post soon. These postcards have old photographs of Gretna on them and show images of the Blacksmiths shop, Gretna Hall and the old Parish Church and War Memorial. There is also an image of the Blacksmiths shop which is shown above at the top of the article.

This image shows a photo of Gretna Hall in Gretna

The image below shows the old blacksmiths shop in Gretna



The final image shows the Parish Church in Gretna with the War Memorial and Prince Charlie’s Cottage



You can see all of the old photos of Carlisle here:

The State Management Display inside The Devil's Porridge Museum.

State Management Display

By News

A recent visitor to the Museum took a photo during their visit of our State Management of alcohol display (specifically a bottle of Brandy which must date from the 1970’s at least!) here we share a little bit more about this unique social experiment in Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway.

Ten thousand (mainly Irish) navvies built HM Factory Gretna, the greatest factory on earth in World War One. They worked in difficult conditions to build the factory in a hurry and within eight months, it was fully operational and producing the Devils Porridge (cordite, an explosive)

The arrival of these hard working and hard drinking men caused social problems. Alcohol was a particular issue. On one famous night, ‘The Night of a Thousand Whiskies’, a barkeeper in Carlisle lined up 1000 shots of whisky for the navvies to consume. They drank their drink and then roamed around the streets of Carlisle raising hell. The residents of Carlisle and Annan were adamant: something had to change.

Some bottles of alcohol from the State Management Scheme

So the state took control of the alcohol supply: limiting people to buying one drink at a time, taking over the pubs, inns and taverns to make them more social with bowling greens and restaurants as well as producing their own alcohol (a weaker brew). This control of alcohol became known as the State Management Scheme or the Carlisle Experiment. It was introduced in World War One in response to a perceived immigrant disruption of social life but it remained long after the migrant navvies had left.

Statistics demonstrating the success of State Management

The State Management of Alcohol in parts of Cumbria and South West Scotland lasted until 1973. It is one of the most tangible impacts of HM Factory Gretna on this region. Many people from across the region were employed within state management.


The Devils Porridge Museum has a display relating to this experiment which showcases different bottles of wine, sherry and alcohol as well as showcasing beer pump stoppers, coasters and even dining sets (there were state managed hotels as well). A recent visitor donated to us a crate of State Managed beer. The bottles are full but I wouldn’t like to drink one! You often wonder what else is hiding out there in someone’s attic or garage and what part of the fascinating story of our region it helps to tell?

State Management Display in the Museum

WW1 Fireless Locomotive

By News

Outside The Devil’s Porridge Museum there stands a train, a fireless locomotive called Sir James, which was built and used in World War One. By the time it came to the Museum, it was in a rusty and poor state of repair.  The Museum spent a lot of time and money restoring the engine and it is now one of our most popular displays.


This engine was used to transport the ‘devil’s porridge’ paste through HM Factory Gretna (the greatest munitions factory on earth at that time, it stretched nine miles from Dornock in Scotland to Longtown in England).  The paste was made into cordite, a propellant in the English side of the Factory.  Cordite went inside all the bullets and shells used in World War One.


Sir James is an unusual locomotive.  It is powered by steam but there is no fire inside.  This was a safety precaution as the Factory produced explosive material and the train was used to transport it.  There was a genuine concern that there might be a major explosion (there were several fires and explosions here during World War One but the safety record was remarkably good given that 30,000 people worked at the Factory in total and we know of only twelve deaths directly attributable to accidents).


Sir James was built by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock, Scotland and in World War One, it would have been charged up with steam from an external boiler before setting off.   For these locomotives to work, it was necessary to have three charging stations en route to maintain pressure.  These ‘crazy green and brown patchwork’ camouflaged fireless locomotives could pull ten loaded wagons and return the empty wagons on one charge of steam.

At the end of the War, the Factory eventually closed and much of the machinery was sold off.  Sir James was sold in 1924 to the Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company at Brimsdown Generating Station and then in 1975 to the Lakeland and Haverthwaite railway before joining us at the Museum and being restored to its former glory in 2011.

If you enjoyed this article you might be interested in the following items from our online shop…

HM Factory Gretna’s Unique Railway System Booklet

Sir James Postcard

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